Less than half of Americans own a passport.
Why do Americans travel less than other people?
Do they hate to travel abroad?
Americans Are Traveling Less
Do Americans really dislike international travel? Only around 42% of U.S. citizens even own a passport. That might sound bad, but wait: only 3% of Americans owned a passport in 1989 and just 21% had a passport in 2004. It looks like more and more Americans are traveling to other nations. Still, they’re even more likely to travel within their own country…which is quite big and diverse. Where do they like to travel? They like to go to California, Texas, Florida, and New York according to one study. American citizens(1) only take 0.2 international trips a year. By comparison, Hong Kong citizens take 11.4 international trips per year, the most in the world.
It’s good to see Americans traveling abroad more often, but why do they still travel less than most other people? There are some good reasons.
Why Do Americans Travel Less?
For starters, they don’t have a lot of vacation time. The average American has two weeks of vacation per year (France has over a month). More surprisingly, ¼ of Americans have no paid vacation at all, and only a third even use the vacation time they have! It looks like Americans are the worker bees of the Western world.
Young people love to travel, but let’s face it, travel is expensive. Student debt(2) in America is now over one trillion dollars!! The average student and post-grad might have trouble paying for basic needs, let alone an international vacation.
And if that weren’t bad enough, more than half of Americans report having credit card debt—and that is only counting the people who reported it!
The U.S. is big. Like “top five biggest countries in the world” big. While Europeans and Asians can often get to another country by train or airplane in just a couple of hours, Americans would have to cross an ocean to get anywhere except Canada or Mexico, which could still be quite far away.
There is a lot to see in the U.S. There are snowy peaks, tropical(3) beaches, giant deserts, bustling cities, lots of national parks, and many different landscapes and cultural areas to explore, all without an American passport.
Red White and Blue
Unfortunately, there are Americans that are totally ignorant(4) of other cultures. They think America has the best of everything and don’t see the point in traveling anywhere else. This is partially due to the news, which mostly only talks about stuff that relates directly to their own country.
Luckily, this group of people is getting smaller and smaller while more of their fellow citizens are traveling abroad and learning about other cultures.
More Americans Are Going Abroad
If we look at 2017, things are looking better for Americans wanting to travel abroad. One out of every five long-term travelers was a U.S. passport holder, and the country was second in terms of international travel spending, spending $135 billion! That is a 9% increase from 2016. Only China spent more on international travel.
The fact remains, though, that far less than half of Americans own a passport compared with 66% of Canadians and 76% of British citizens. So the U.S. still has some work to do before it can consider its citizens well-traveled.
Where Do Americans Like to Travel?
The 9/11 terrorist(5) attacks in 2001 made traveling in the U.S. a bit scarier. After 9/11, passports have been required for Americans to enter Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Unsurprisingly, Mexico and Canada are the two most popular destinations. After that is the UK (specifically(6), London) and then Western Europe, the Caribbean, and East Asia. Europe is a popular destination for Americans who are trying to return to countries where their relatives came from and experience the histories of their own families.
Americans are traveling more and more, but it will probably be a while until they travel abroad as much as other people. There are reasons for this, but the more Americans travel, the more they are able to understand and accept new cultures and ideas.
If you’re American, which countries have you traveled to? If not, where are you from and where have you had some good travel experiences? How many trips abroad do you take every year? Leave your comments below and join the conversation.
1. citizen (n.)
Def. a native or naturalized member of a state or nation
Ex. She is a Japanese citizen, but she is working in Canada for a year.
2. debt (n.)
Def. something that is owed or that one is bound to pay
Ex. Your credit card debt is crazy! You need to pay it off fast and stop using your credit card.
3. tropical (adj.)
Def. pertaining to, characteristic of, occurring in, or inhabiting the tropics, especially the humid tropics:
Ex. The Philippines is a tropical country. It’s hot, and it has amazing beaches.
4. ignorant (adj.)
Def. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned:
Ex. Children are usually ignorant of world affairs.
5. terrorist (n.)
Def. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
Ex. Terrorists bombed the Olympics and killed one hundred people.
6. specifically (adv.)
Def. in a definite or precise manner:
Ex. I wanted chocolate specifically. I only like chocolate.